25 August 2014

Ghana: Electronic System to Block Leakages in Timber Industry

The Forestry Commission would soon deploy an electronic wood tracking system to reduce human interventions in its operations to help deal with illegal timber, reduce losses and increase revenue to the state.

The new computerized system is expected to take over the paper based system for tracking the commission's timber resources which has been fraught with corruption, leading to illegal felling of timber and leakages in revenue to the state. This new initiative was revealed by the Chief Executive officer of the Commission, Mr. Samuel Afari-Dartey, when the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Nii Osah Mills paid a familiarization visit to interact with officers and workers of the Commission.

Addressing the officers of the Commission, the Minister raised concerns about the illegal harvesting and exportation of Rosewood, despite a ban placed on it, with the help of some forestry commission personnel who prepare forged documents for some timber merchants. He cautioned personnel of the commission to desist from act that would lead to revenue losses to the state.

He tasked the Commission to execute their mandate with diligence and dedication to ensure that the state maximizes revenue from its timber resources. To this effect, the Minister suggested that officials of the Commission, mandated to enforce, monitor and ensure compliance must be made to swear an oath when employed, to officially bond them on their duties.

The Chief executive Officer of the Commission, on his part, bemoaned the fact that the Commission has not been able to grow new plantations, due to lack of funds and thus called for support to at least maintain existing ones. He also mentioned training and other logistical constraints affecting the work of the Commission. The chief executive emphases although the commission now has its own training school to train its personnel as is the best practice worldwide, it was contending with change management and logistical issues.

The Minister, however, pledged his support to help the Commission raise the necessary funding to sustain its operations and to mobilize internally generated funds. He also assured to help constitute the Board for the commission and the enactment of the Wildlife Bill which is currently before cabinet.

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